With training camps around the league now in full swing, veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton still remains unemployed. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, however, that Hampton\’s locker at Saint Vincent College remains unoccupied with his name plate still fixed above it. Whether or not it\’s just a tribute to the 12 years Hampton put in at Latrobe or some sort of sign that he could still possible return, we just don\’t know.
One thing that we do know is that the Steelers still lack experienced depth at the nose tackle position behind new starter Steve McLendon. Second-year nose tackle Alameda Ta\’amu has yet to practice during training camp as he remains on the Active PUP list with a hamstring injury suffered just prior to him reporting to Latrobe. While former undrafted free agent Hebron Fangupo and his enormous calves have reportedly looked good during the first few practices, you\’d still have to think he has a long way to go before he can be counted on as a backup.
During the offseason practices and first few practices at Latrobe, backup defensive end Al Woods has received reps at nose tackle in an effort to develop his position flexibility. Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about Woods time at the position a following the first training camp practice and he told the media not to read too much into it.
“He\’s a guy that\’s vying for a job like everyone else,” said Tomlin of Woods. “That\’s just where we are, we\’re at the very beginnings of stages of trying to identify the 53 plus eight practice squads in the division of labor within that. So I wouldn\’t read too much into who\’s running with what groups and things of that nature at this point. Really it\’s probably irrelevant. There\’s going to be plenty of time to ascend and descend within these ranks.”
So will Hampton ascend off the streets and be the Steelers sixth defensive lineman on the 53 man roster? It\’s probably still too early to tell, but one would think if Hampton was to return for a 13th season in Pittsburgh, it would likely have to happen pretty soon as the big two-gapper most definitely will need time to get himself back into football shape and absorb whatever has been implemented defensively over the course of the offseason.
Has #BigSnackWatch begun, or are the Steelers more comfortable at the nose tackle position than I think they should be?